The 2018 Royal Rumble set a historic precedent by holding the first Women's Royal Rumble match, which also happened to be the Main Event.
This event signified the shift in WWE’s attitude toward female performers. Fans were understandably confused when, following the brilliant, nearly hour-long match, UFC star Ronda Rousey strolled out into the ring to talk shop with Stephanie McMahon before the show closed.
It was an odd move that was possibly intended to further the female focus. Regardless, it took the spotlight away from the female competitors, and Rumble winner Asuka, and placed it on Rousey, who isn't even a WWE Superstar.
Rousey Joins WWE
The angle saw Rousey "crashing" the show right off the back of Asuka's big win. With Smackdown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair and Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss in the ring, Rousey pointed at the WrestleMania 34 sign — a power move in the WWE that basically means "I'll be competing there."
Rousey also tried to shake Asuka's hand but was slapped away. Rousey stole a meaningful look at both titles and symbolically shook McMahon's hand instead. The former UFC bantamweight champion inked a full-time deal with the WWE off the back of her well-received Wrestlemania appearance just a few years ago. McMahon is allegedly training to face her in the ring, in a mixed tag match with husband Triple H.
WWE Superstars React
Triple H was quoted saying he's very happy to have Rousey on board, but it seems like WWE's female performers think that the UFC star doesn't fit in. Nia Jax tweeted to take issue with the timing of Rousey's big reveal:
Cool she’s here....I guess 30 women making history can just be forgotten https://t.co/fHqMezduEH
— Nia Jax (@NiaJaxWWE) January 30, 2018
Former Divas Champion Nikki Bella had a similar grievance:
“I have nothing nice to say so I can’t say anything at all," fellow Superstar Sasha Banks said in an interview with Sirius XM earlier this week.
Fellow Superstars Lana and Natalya also discussed Rousey's hiring in an interview on The Trend With Rebecca Granet.
"We all do have different ways we could go about getting to WWE. Some of us have different backgrounds, I've been around wrestling my entire life, since I was a little girl, since I was born. Not everybody has that background. Not everybody was born into a wrestling dynasty. Lana's journey is different, Ronda's journey is going to be different and I think it's situational," she said.
Natalya defended her long-time friend, and her decision to make this big change in her career.
"With Ronda, yes, she absolutely does has to prove herself, but I know Ronda personally, I'm friends with her. Ronda has expressed that she more than anything wants to prove herself and she really wants to bring even more attention to the women of WWE, and I think it's going to be incredible for all of us," she added.
Although all of these comments could be part of an upcoming storyline, there's arguably some truth to what these female performers are saying. It's only been a couple of years since the title "Diva" was retired, and wrestlers such as Bella, Banks, and Jax, have worked tirelessly to get their shot in a company that's never treated its female performers equally, such as when they competed in the now-infamous bra-and-panties matches.
Still, Triple H remains confident Rousey will do well in the WWE. If nothing else, her star power should bring more viewers to WrestleMania 34. Rousey herself has stated that the WWE is her priority for the next few years. Hopefully, the other female performers won't be sidelined in the process.